Still haven’t filed your FBAR? Don’t wait till you get hit with forfeiture

by Linda Beale

Still haven’t filed your FBAR? Don’t wait till you get hit with forfeiture like this Alaska Plastic Surgeon

It looks like the leads from the various voluntary disclosures are beginning to pay off, as the U.S. is beginning to develop high stakes cases related to Americans who have tried to maintain secret caches of cash offshore–to hide from the taxman and from their ex-spouses! The forfeiture complaint in the case, filed Feb. 9, 2012 in California’s Central District, is available here.

The government seized $4.656 million belonging to Michael and Sheila Brandner (he’s the plastic surgeon) from an account at Bank of America in the name of Evergreen Capital LLC, an entity set up by Brandner and under his (hidden) control. The government’s tale is a sordid one–In the middle of Brandner’s divorce proceedings in May 2008, he drove to Panama where he deposited checks worth about $3.5 million in a non-US bank, with the purpose of concelaing the assets from his soon-to-be ex-wife. A person who became a “cooperating witness” helped him open the account and told him about the FBAR requirement, but Brandner didn’t file the required report. A few months later, Brandner transferred an additional $1.4 million, mostly from his pension fund, to that account (also to conceal it from his wife. The pension fund was awarded to his wife in the divorce proceedings, and when Brandner learned that the Panama account might be susceptible to discovery, Brandner moved the money through wire deposits in 2011 into the Bank of America account of Evergreen Capital, allegedly to conceal it from the IRS and from his ex-wife.

As the Atkinson story notes, this mess was doubly stupid. It was stupid of the surgeon to try to cheat his wife of assets and it was really stupid to do it in a way that could well ultimately subject him to criminal charges. See Jay Atkinson, Brandner: Alaska Plastic Surgeon Faces Forfeiture Of $4.656 Million For Undisclosed Offshore Account Used To Attempt To Cheat Ex-Wife, Forbes (Mar. 17, 2012). Anybody else that is still waiting out there with millions in an undeclared offshore account, watch out. The time to file and pay up has arrived.